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Jo Bailey FCIPS

PCEO, Progressive Systems

Chair, CIPS NSW Branch

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date? 

I think I was lucky to have worked in environments that respected my work and gave me opportunities. Yes, when I first started working the women were expected to tidy the office, get the coffees, do the dishes and accept innuendos but that was just how it was, I didn’t see it as a challenge at all. 

I’d say the most challenging time in my career was when I was a full-time working Mum. My children are all grown now, but the hardest thing for me was the feeling of letting people down when I had to drop everything and go, or take days off to care for sick kids. During those early years it seemed like I was away more often than not sometimes. Obviously my children were my priority but I felt so badly that I wasn’t pulling my own weight at work, or that it might reflect on my performance.

My husband helped where he could but there was no such thing as parental leave back then, I was just lucky to be allowed to take some unpaid time off to have them in the first place.

It’s a bit different these days, but I’m still having conversations with people who feel anxiety when it comes to caring for family. I always do my utmost to help people I work with to feel more relaxed about having to take time off for life priorities.

Who has inspired you (male or female)?

That’s easy, my husband of 35 years. Jim’s a quiet achiever who has shown me more about perseverance, humility, kindness and respect than anyone.

He finally got to compete in the most recent Commonwealth Games after 16 years of just missing out on qualifying and after more than 35 years dedicated to his sport.  He came away with a silver Commonwealth Games medal and then last year he was part of the Australian Team that won the World Championship. The first time Australia has held the World Title since 1988. The Team comprised a lot of younger people that Jim had mentored.

He’s humble about his achievements and he gives a lot of his time to helping others, never expecting or wanting anything in return. He respects people and gets it back in spades.

If we can apply all those same attributes in our work, success is assured.

What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

Just because you haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Give it a go.

Whether it’s a new task, a new project, category or contract, analysis, research or a report that needs doing, don’t hold yourself back. Work out what you need to do, and get on with it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help but ultimately you might just surprise yourself and no doubt be very pleased with your new-found skills.

What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

I don’t think there are specific character traits for successful women, I’ve seen all different types of people reach high levels and get strong results for a great many reasons. Regardless, they all believed in themselves enough to put themselves into a situation to become successful.

I believe that a good leader:

  • treats people with respect
  • provides a clear vision and correlation to the team and individuals’ contributions
  • backs and supports their team
  • communicates results
  • celebrates wins

Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life? 

Yes, I always say “If it’s to be, it’s up to me

What do you #ChooseToChallenge?

I think the focus on gender equality in the workplace is great but wonder why this hasn’t been more broadly extended to women-owned businesses in Australia as it is in some other countries. While some of our corporate businesses include women-owned suppliers in their diversity expectations, it doesn’t seem to be a priority or embraced by our Governments or some of our industries in the same way that other diversity groups have been.

I’d also like to say how much I admire women in male-dominated industries like construction, and give a shout out to everyone who are encouraging and supporting them in their roles. While I don’t want to generalise because I know there are a lot of accepting, respectful men in these industries, there is still a strong ‘boy’s club’ mentality where men are uncomfortable having women attending their meetings or find it funny to make inappropriate comments to or about women in their workplace. I’d like to challenge men in these industries to step up.

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